As a fan of the Oakland Raiders, I'm used to hearing hard-luck stories about our players. Just today Raiders wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey pled not guilty to a drunk driving charge and last week Raiders linebacker Rolando McClain was convicted of threatening a man with a gun, even firing a shot next to the guy's head to scare him. I've been reading about the story of former Southern California high school football star Brian Banks and think he's someone the Raiders should look at.
I'm hoping the story of Brian Banks has a happy ending. Back in 2002, Banks was a 16-year old high school football superstar attending Long Beach Polytechnic High, one of the best football schools in Southern California. He was doing everything right, and attracted the attention of many top colleges along with then-USC football coach Pete Carroll, who offered the young star a full-ride football scholarship to USC.
Everything looked like Brian Banks would continue to dominate in high school, then become a USC football star, followed by a professional NFL career. It all looked like a bright future. Then in 2003, after a date with a classmate, Banks was accused of raping and kidnapping the girl, was arrested, tried and sentenced to six years in state prison. The story in the LA Weekly reported his attorney advised him to take a plea deal, as he would certainly be found guilty if he risked going to trial and that's what Banks did. He then spent the next nine years in state prison for a crime he didn't commit.
Banks' case was recently appealed and he had a powerful new piece of evidence in his favor, a videotape of the accuser admitting she made up the whole story. He was freed from prison and exonerated of all charges.
Since his release from jail, Banks has been training hard and trying to get a try-out with an NFL team. On May 30, ESPN reported that the Seattle Seahawks, now coached by Pete Carroll, will give Banks a tryout on June 7. Banks also told the LA Weekly the Washington Redskins, Kansas City Chiefs and the Miami Dolphins also have interest in him. Banks has told the LA Weekly that he wanted to stay local and play with the San Diego Chargers, but the team responded they had "no interest." Again, I would like to see the Oakland Raiders give this middle linebacker a tryout. Banks has his own blog (Pursuit of the NFL) where he's been tracking his progress towards an NFL career.
Although born and raised with Eagles fans in Philadelphia, Freddy Sherman has always been a citizen of Raider Nation at heart. Since his dad got him a signed George Blanda football as child, to meeting Lyle Alzado in the 1980s, he hasn't looked back. Follow him on twitter @thefredsherman
More from this contributor: